YOUNGSTOWN — Chelsea Olson got the sendoff she deserved, and Youngstown State handled its business Sunday, dispatching Wright State, 77-53, to set up a sprint to the finish in the Horizon League this coming week.
After she and her teammates warmed up in commemorative shirts to honor her, Olson, a fifth-year senior who’s put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career with the Penguins, tallied a near double-double, scoring eight points and securing nine rebounds.
Sunday marked her regular season finale at the Beeghly Center, though she’ll have at least one postseason game there, as YSU has secured a spot in the Horizon League’s top four, and in turn a home quarterfinal game in the league tournament.
Also honored were student assistant Jamison Jenkins and Gabby Lupardus, who played in 28 games for the Penguins but was sidelined with injuries for nearly all of her college career.
“It means a lot (to go out with a win),” Olson said. “I’m thankful I have one more game, thankful we put ourselves in the position to have one more game here at Beeghly, but it’s definitely meant a lot to me. This has been my home the past five years, so it definitely means a lot.”
There was little doubt it would end this way for Olson. After taking a 19-14 lead after the first quarter, the Penguins (23-4, 17-3) put the game away in the second, taking a 40-26 lead into halftime and never letting Wright State (3-21, 2-17) back within that 14-point cushion.
“That was probably my biggest concern is to finish up (Chelsea’s) regular season career with a win,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “The staff has worked really hard getting ready for this game for Chelsea, for Gabby Lupardus, who’s been through a lot, and Jamison to send them off with a win.”
After a Jada Wright 3-pointer brought the Raiders to within 19-16, Mady Aulbach sank her third 3-pointer of the first half, and Lexi Wagner followed with one of her own to push YSU back out to a nine-point advantage.
Aulbach finished with nine points and six assists, while Wagner hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points on a 4-for-7 day overall. Paige Shy added three triples for nine points and tacked on six rebounds, and Malia Magestro scored nine, as well. As a team, YSU shot 12-of-29 from 3-point range.
Barnes was happy to see Aulbach take those shots, as Wright State locked down on some of YSU’s other threats.
“They were doing a good job of not letting our other players shoot, and she had some space and was really aggressive,” Barnes said. “I’ve had to beg this team to shoot more than any other team that I’ve ever coached. Mady did a great job of being aggressive in that first half and knocking down those threes to help us have a little bit of a lead.”
And while those 3-point shooters were shooting at a hot clip, Lilly Ritz posted another dominant performance down low. The forward scored a game-high 20 points, secured 15 rebounds and blocked three shots.
The Penguin defense also turned in a strong showing, holding WSU to a 22-for-68 (32.4 percent) day. The Raiders sank just four of their 15 shots from 3-point range.
Destyne Jackson paced Wright State with 14 points, and Wright added 10 points and eight boards.
YSU has won five straight now, and can win the Horizon League regular season title if it wins out. The Penguins face No. 2 IUPUI on Thursday before ending their regular season at UIC on Saturday. IUPUI topped Youngstown State in their first encounter Jan. 16 in come-from-behind fashion, a 76-68 overtime decision.
“We just have to keep the momentum, and we have to remember the loss we had against them last time and remember how bad that hurt,” Ritz said. “We don’t want another one of those, and our (Horizon League Tournament) seed really depends on this game, so we really have to come in and play the basketball we know how to play.”